According to Leonora Redelinghuys, the divisional head of Touchlab, the unit specifically set up to develop Media24's tablet applications, the group is 'very aggressive in this space'. "With the largest tablet-focused development house in South Africa, we aim to solve the difficult problems facing digital publishing," she says.
"The interesting thing with the travel application is that our unit almost had to redefine what the magazine would look like in 10 years, pulling in additional feeds from a number of high quality data sources and displaying that in a mapping interface. The travel application is currently live in iTunes, but we're also moving to Android soon," says Redelinghuys.
Playing around with a few models
In staying on the cutting edge, Touchlab is playing around with a few models.
"Landbouweekblad has a very niche, wealthy audience. The wonderful thing is that the magazine is old and established, but it's a weekly publication. The content is evergreen but our concern is that, as the years go by, people can't access great content that is actually relevant all the time."
Its solution was to make five years' worth of the publication's 'evergreen' content part of the application.
"As the magazine is published every week, the content within the application is updated immediately. It's a great advantage for farmers who live far from where they can get the magazine," says Redelinghuys.
Touchlab also added nifty utilities to the application, such as weather, classifieds and market indicators. "We're about to add utilities such as a spirit level and agricultural listings," she says.
Using Woodwing - software which allows multichannel publishing, and is used by the likes of Time and Sports Illustrated magazines - as a print workflow solution, Touchlab is creating 'immersive digital reading experiences for magazines'. The Go! Kilimanjaro application is one example of the software's capabilities.
Redelinghuys has taken a different approach to magazine audiences. "With something like Baba en Kleuter, instead of simply taking their content and displaying that on a device, we've come up with a nifty Flashcard application for little kids." she says.
Newspaper apps available soon
Redelinghuys says that there is also a major focus on their new newspaper applications. "Our first applications will be for Die Burger and Beeld, which will both have breaking news and in-depth articles, as well as content that takes advantage of the tablet's capabilities."
Both the IOS and Android versions of the applications for Die Burger will be released in early March, with the Beeld application following shortly thereafter.
Redelinghuys says that with the Android market picking up and cheaper devices streaming in from China, it's a critical market. "It's important that we look at that. I'm also pleasantly surprised by how quickly our readership grew on digital newsstands like Zinio and My Subs," she adds.
Roshila Jarosz (neé Pillay) is a communications lackey by day, running a website and communications for an organisation, and by night a serial social networker and writer. She used to work as a journalist for various publications, including Elle magazine, the Mail & Guardian, Financial Mail Campus and the Sunday Independent, as well as other titles, before she sold out to corporates. Email her at and follow @Lipika777 on Twitter.
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